One thing that I have never found myself wondering before is what would happen to my (or anyone’s really) online accounts if I were to pass away. Being 22, it’s just not something that I have found myself worrying about before. And my first thoughts for writing this blog were to argue how useless I believe my online accounts to be. Why would anyone care about my e-mail, Facebook, or anything else that I’ve done Online? Most of it is just a stupid way for me to pass time, worth nothing at all. All of these thoughts were the initial, first reaction things that popped into my head. I thought about it for a few more minutes though, and I believe I’m going to have to flip flop.
In terms of monetary value, I can definitely see how something like an e-mail or eBay account could be worth something. If the person that passes ran their business through eBay, obviously the family is going to want access to that account. It could affect their well-being, which is why there should be no question that a close family member should have easy access to the passwords. As far as e-mails go, again there can be contacts in their account that are directly related to how the deceased earned their living. It may be vital for the family members to be able to access those accounts to keep a business relationship going. These are the type of accounts that I understood the value of from the second I read the Gorgone post. What I didn’t quite understand was why anyone would want a Facebook or Twitter password passed down.
While I still don’t believe that something like a deceased family member’s Facebook has any monetary value, I do now believe that it may have even more importance. One reason is the photos that are uploaded to Facebook. There is no doubt that youth today are very “picture happy”. Especially with the advancement of camera phones, everywhere you look someone is taking a picture, and an awful lot of them end up on Facebook. I know for me personally, I have put pictures on the site and that is all I have done with them. It’s not like I make a copy for my mom every time I do that, but if I were to pass I’m sure she would want some of these pictures of me. I think most parents would. These represent memories of a loved one, which usually carry far more importance than a little money.
Using a deceased person’s Facebook or Twitter is also the ideal way to inform friends and acquaintances about their death. Nearly anyone who would care to know of the passing would more than likely be connected to the person through social media. If family members were given access to these accounts, they could simply post a message stating what happened, along with info about a wake/funeral. It is just a way to make what will be the hardest situation in the family’s life just a little bit easier.
All that said, I find it ridiculous that families have a hard time getting loved one’s online accounts and passwords. Unless they specifically state in a will that they want someone else to have the rights, it should be a no brainer that family can have it. I understand there are programs like Legacy Locker that will make sure it happens, but I just don’t find it fair that someone should have to pay so that their family gets something that is so obviously theirs.
As I mentioned though, when I first read the article I was on the other side of the fence, so I’m sure some of you are two. Does anyone believe that these online accounts are pointless to pass on? Or am I possibly underplaying their value, and do you think there should be more barriers for people to obtain these accounts? I’d love to get your opinions.